On the outside, the Western Hills High School volleyball team looked the same on Tuesday night.
The Lady Wolverines’ uniforms were still dark forest green and their headbands still sparkled on top of pulled back ponytails. But WHHS head coach Kristi Buffenmyer said it was the team’s attitude that had changed.
“We had a good weekend,” Buffenmyer said of the Lady Wolverines’ victory 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-23) against East Jessamine. “They worked hard together and brought back a trophy. That was the first time in a while. I think they are buying into it and they are on the road to recovery. They are 10-15. It is the first time they’ve had that record in a while and we’re still carrying the letter around. They still read it before every game.”
The self-addressed letter, which Buffenmyer keeps safely in her pants’ pocket, was written by her athletes about their team’s goals after a disappointing loss to Lexington Christian on Aug. 28. Since its creation, WHHS has won five of its last nine games.
The Lady Wolverines added one of those wins against East Jessamine (3-13) at home Tuesday. After letting the Lady Jaguars have two separate 6-0 runs in the first game, WHHS came back.
“I’ve changed that first server I don’t know how many times, but everytime whoever it is either serves it into the net or out of bounds,” Buffenmyer said. “I think they like to come from behind for some reason, but they come back. That’s the difference from last year. Last year, they wouldn’t have come back.”
WHHS claimed a 21-19 lead with a kill by Brooklyn Etherington and then a block by Amy Mauer. The momentum carried the team to a 25-22 win in game one.
In the second game, Etherington and Mauer again secured the win 25-19. Etherington, a player who is most recognizable on the floor because of her laughter and smile, revealed neither Tuesday.
In a third game with 11 ties, it was Etherington that posted kill after kill.
“I felt like we played as a team,” she said. “We all just wanted to get it done and not play around.
“I think we stayed focused by keeping all of the teammates up and not letting anyone’s head hang down, even if they made a mistake. We kept on rolling with it.”
WHHS won the third game 25-23 over the Lady Jaguars. After the match, Buffenmyer wrote the words, “Road to Recovery” on the white board in the locker room.
“I think things are finally starting to look up for them,” Buffenmyer said. “This is a great class. They deserve it. This is what we’ve been pushing and pushing them toward. We knew they had it in them. It is good to see them get what they deserve, because they’ve been working so hard.”
WHHS’ “road to recovery” will continue to Woodford County, where a rematch is in order. The Lady Wolverines lost to WCHS 0-3 (16-25, 25-27, 20-25) at home on Aug. 23. Immediately after that match, Buffenmyer said she was anxious to play them again.
“I’m glad we get another chance to play them,” she said. “We played them in August and we fought pretty hard with them the first game, but then we laid down the second and third. But we don’t lay down anymore and I don’t think Woodford will be expecting that.”
WHHS plays at Woodford County Thursday at 7:30 p.m.